The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10: The Double Heritage of Greece

TO interpret Europe one cannot avoid going back to ancient history, to Greece and Rome. This means an excursion into a distant past, but a past which, in both cases, is still very much alive.

When we speak of Greece, we mean a particular period in the history of that small Balkan country, a period covering the life of the free Greek republics in their bloom from about 800 B.C. to about 250 B.C., some time after they had lost their independence and when the momentum of their former freedom had died down.

The Greeks of that period were the most creative people known to history. Most things in which persons with live minds on either side of the Atlantic are interested go back to the Greeks. In two fields in particular they showed their genius--in the field of culture and in the field of politics. In the field of culture they were the pioneers of all the various branches of knowledge and the fine arts that are now used as educational material in our schools, colleges, and universities. Moreover, they were not only pioneers, but also co-ordinators. They not only discovered or thought out this material for the first time, but they also co-ordinated it, assembling it in its right place in the scheme of human knowledge.


CHAPTER 11: Genuine and Artificial Culture

AFTER the age of Greek creativeness passed away, this heritage of "culture" was handed on to other peoples, chiefly through the medium of the Romans, and became an inseparable part of the intellectual and artistic life of the peoples of Europe. The fact that this culture reached them indirectly and at second hand

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